Supergroup working to improve mental health picture for young people growing up in Hackney

The commission is hoping its findings can lead to a town hall review on mental health. Photo by Ken

The commission is hoping its findings can lead to a town hall review on mental health. Photo by Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A supergroup of health bodies, agencies and charities are working together to improve the mental health picture for young people growing up in Hackney.

Deputy mayor, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble. Picture: Adam Holt/Hackney Council

Deputy mayor, Cllr Anntoinette Bramble. Picture: Adam Holt/Hackney Council - Credit: Archant

Meeting at Cardinal Pole Catholic School on Monday evening, groups such as mental health charity Place2Be and the City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group came together to present their findings on a subject which is still clouded in stigma – despite increased government exposure in the last year.

Summoned by the children and young people’s commission, the groups were all looking into the “relatively high level of risk factors for poor mental health and well being in the borough”, according to Hackney Council’s public health manager Matt Clack.

Of the five “actions” pledged by the council in tackling mental health, one is focused on building the resilience of all children and young people in Hackney aged five to 19 years, as well as those aged up to 25 years with additional needs.

Cllr Tom Rahilly, who is heading up the commission, said: “The council is committed to helping improve the mental health and wellbeing of people across Hackney. As part of its commitment, the council’s health and wellbeing board agreed a range of actions to stimulate activity to improve preventative support, working closely with stakeholders in local public services.

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“We know that many mental health difficulties start early in people’s lives and if left without support these can develop into more serious illnesses.

“As the mental health champion I want to ensure the support is made available to children and young people across the borough, building on the great quality support that already exists. This will need work from the council, health services, our schools and other partners. We will include this when our action plan is refreshed in April.”

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Place2Be has been providing support and expert training to improve the emotional wellbeing of pupils, families, teachers and school staff at The Bridge Academy, Princess May Primary, Hackney New School and William Patten Primary at various stages over the past seven years.

In 2016/17 across the four schools, 501 kids used the lunchtime self-referral service, 85 were supported through individual counselling, 20 went to group counselling, 94 parents were supported by a Place2Be manager, and 333 staff attended consultation sessions.

The charity cited challenges including a lack of funding for mental health services and the fact that some teachers are unclear about how to get the right support for their students.

Early intervention in spotting signs of mental health in young kids was cited by most groups as being key.

The commission hopes the council can set out defined objectives to support its findings.

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, deputy mayor of Hackney and education chief, added: “The council is working with partners to deliver some ground-breaking work in a number of Hackney schools, with the aim of supporting children and young people to understand issues around mental health and access support as early as possible.

“This includes strengthening relationships between our CAMHS services and schools, simplifying access to support through placing mental health practitioners in schools and working with schools to develop a robust wellbeing framework that supports and develops their children’s health and wellbeing.”

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